tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC February 5, 2013 7:00pm-8:00pm EST
thanks for watching. i'm al sharpton, "hardbl" starts right now. running for cover. let's play "hardball." ♪ good evening. i'm chris matthews in washington. let me start tonight with this crying and gnashing of republican teeth. it started with karl rove wailing in the gop wilderness screaming for an end to crazy candidates. no more rape candidates, he said. in fact, he cried that out. no more akins or mourdocks and the rest. all that did was to awaken the sleeping dogs. joe walsh is out there today with a new political action committee. steve king and paul broun are howling in fury that big shots like karl rove are saying who should be the republican nominees and who shouldn't. today it was eric cantor's turn.
the young dick nixon of the gop house is now saying he wants change. trouble is what he's said before and where he talked today. the super hawk of the party gave his manifesto at the city's nonprofit war room, the american enterprise institute. what he came out for, some new dedegree that colleges have to conduct employment surveys to say what jobs there are for history majors, english majors, you name it. i guess he wants to cut down on these people taking liberal subjects in college that allow you to think and express yourself. he sounds like he wants the federal government to have become a helicopter mom hovering over all of us. and they say democrats are intervening in people's live. what will republicans do next to try to deflect from their history of starting unnecessary wars, chasing minorities and others from the polling places. being hawkish and undemocratic are not exactly great recruiting posters. let's face it. helping me to explain the latest republican face lift are john feehery and dee dee myers.
we'll start with this. we know karl rove plans on finding more electable republican candidates as he finds them. what we heard was a kinder, gentler eric cantor than the one we have seen and heard before. remember the obstructionist majority leader, remember his name was cantor, who fought the president on the debt ceiling. he called the obama administration the imperial presidency. he stepped out today to show there are no rough edges in this republican party. let's listen to cantor today. >> we'll advance proposals aimed at producing results in areas like education, health care, innovation, and job growth. our solutions will be based on the conservative principles of self-reliance, faith in the individual, trust in family, and accountability in government. our goal is to ensure that every american has a fair shot to earn success and achieve their dreams.
>> what a cover-up. your party ought to be ashamed of itself. you spent months in every state legislative capital trying to keep black people and poor people from voting or young people. now you're out pretending that you care about opportunity in america. it's an absurdity eric cantor -- >> the speech by eric cantor was a very good speech. >> if it wasn't given by him maybe. >> eric cantor is a good guy. he's got a family. he cares about this country. he's a patriot. he cares about making government work better, and this is a reform speech. i thought it was a very good -- because it wasn't just practical. i think for republicans they can't be the party of bob dole caring only about the deficit. they have to care about practical -- the reason you're so upset is you know it was a good speech. >> he went over to the aei, the number one war center, this is totally neocon. your thoughts. this is hopeless. i thought he'd admit the truth here today. >> it was a bit jarring to hear
some of that coming from eric cantor who has been a warrior. >> hasn't he been the guy standing behind boehner's back waiting to trip him over because he's been too moderate? >> no question. he's been standing off center stage waiting for his opportunity to become speaker. i thought that there was a lot of practicality in the speech but i didn't think there were really big ideas. i think -- >> it was like sundries and notions in a drugstore. little items, like telling colleges they got to tell people what employment prospects there are for english majors. what's that about? cantor -- let's take a look. he took a approach that the university education should be more like a vocational school, a tech school, a school you can learn a trade and make a living. like i don't know. he suggested kids be told by colleges what majors earn the most money so families make better choices. let's listen. talk about -- this is like state planning here. >> -- college provided prospective students with reliable information on the employment rate and potential earnings by major. whether parents had access to
clear and understandable breakdowns between academic studies and amenities. what would those costs be? armed with this knowledge, families and students can make better decisions about where to go to school and how to budget their tuition dollars. students would actually have a better chance of graduating within four years and getting a job. >> i want to give you an open shot. this is the republican party, not the mommy party. they don't believe in being helicopter moms and telling people how to live, the nanny society, whatever you guys are calling it. here is a government official talking about the need for colleges -- apparently he's going to pass a law to do this, to make sure if you apply -- if you dare to major in philosophy, you get a warning right up front. no jobs in that department. don't go theology, nothing happening with that crowd. what's the government doing messing around with this kind of stuff? your thoughts? >> i'm not the best because i'm a history major. i couldn't figure out what the heck to do with that. >> i majored basically in philosophy. >> i think that for a lot of parents who are worried about
the high cost of education, especially college education, if they want to know, and they should know, what are they getting out of that deal and what are the best majors. i think a little guidance is not a bad thing. >> since when is liberal arts, the heart -- >> i'm a pro-liberal arts guy. >> -- have anything to do -- when has it ever been the case. >> right now people are worried about jobs. >> sure. >> and if what parents are -- >> in other words, don't study history. john, you're not a luddite. >> i'm not. i know what it is. >> don't take history. don't take english. don't take philosophy, languages, take computer sciences. is that the republican message? >> it's not the republican message. i do think there's truth in advertising. maybe that's a good idea. i do agree a well-rounded education is good for everybody. >> back to your game of depends who says this. if a democrat said this, we want the government of the united states making sure that colleges list the economic productivity of various majors. you're an intellectual. you know how to handle this.
what major would you have majored in press secretary of the united states? this idea how you can predict your future based on your major is, i think, crazy, by the way. >> and, you know, i was a political science major which i didn't declare until spring quarter of my senior year and barely got out of there. i think that's a bad idea. on a lot of fronts. >> should the government be involved in this? >> no, the government -- >> the people who most like this are the parents. please major in something you can get a job, and having that kind of data would be very helpful for parents. i don't think necessarily you want the government saying this, and i don't think that's what cantor was saying. >> why was cantor talking -- the republican party has huge problems with minorities, young people, on issues like choice and things like that. they're getting killed. why is this a remake of the republican party? >> bill clinton did very well -- they focused on issues that people cared about, and what people care about are college education, the cost of college -- >> if the gop is going to
rebrand itself, it has to deal with the monster that eric cantor helped create. u.s. congressman paul broun is expected to run for the georgia senate seat held by retiring -- i used to think this guy was right wing -- saxby chambliss. broun said this, i think the only constitution that barack obama upholds is the soviet constitution, not this one. he has no concept of this one, though he claimed to be a constitutional lawyer. steve king who suggested president obama's parents may have announced his birth by telegram from africa. he's the leading pick for an iowa senate seat. can your party stop its candidates being taken up by nuts? >> i think for washington people to say to grassroots activists we have to tell you how you're going to make your pick is a big mistake. >> how do you stop these groups from winning? >> you know what you need to do? you need to educate the voter and get back to the -- >> get them with the right majors. >> hit them with the right --
>> and marco rubio is a great example of somebody who was an alternative candidate. you throw the baby out with the bath water. i don't think you can mandate for that from the top down whether it's the democratic party or republican party. >> how do you avoid -- we know somebody said in your party a few bad apples spoil the bunch, and i do think that's true. i think people took advantage -- i did -- of the fact you had mourdock and akin running. the joke was you have to say which rape candidate. because you guys had so many nuts out there. didn't o'donnell hurt you? didn't that woman out -- i forget her name -- >> sharron angle. >> sharron angle. don't these names hurt you? >> they're frustrated by the candidates they put up and lost, but they like the candidates they ran and won, marco rubio, pat toomey. this is a process, a messy process. for washington to dictate to the grassroots how they're going to vote is very, very dangerous. >> it's not the grassroots that's a problem in my view. there's a certain acceptable fringe in the republican party
that has ideas, and that's why the rape comments were so devastating because it wasn't that he said something that was just ill-considered and just came out of the top of his mouth. it was that it unearthed a strain of thought that's tolerated within the party that's not tolerable to most americans. that's the problem -- >> and the problem with that is then we lose the seat. that's the problem. >> you lose the seat but -- >> what you have to have -- >> it's a -- >> it's a vetting process and a training process -- >> but you also need more internal discipline. you can't let people sort of sneak in under the edge of the tent and pretend they -- >> let me ask you, it's your party. i think the republican party, moderate republican party, is a minority party. i agree you have a problem. if you're just people who are fiscally conservative, a bit less for government than the democrats, and you don't have any wild people on abortion rights or wild people, old segregationist ideas, take away the fringies, your party is about 40%. i see the problem. to get to 50% you have to bring in the nut cases. how do you win elections without
doing that? >> actually -- i actually think to get to 50% you need to bring in the moderates. >> you go the other way. then you have to dump the right. >> what you need is candidates who can go beyond. i think that's what i like about paul ryan and eric cantor and marco rubio -- >> do you think the survivalists in tents in idaho -- the guys who think black helicopters are coming would vote for a moderate republican a centrist republican like rubio? >> he's a tea party candidate. >> would they go that far? >> some would and some wouldn't. the fact of the matter is you need to find candidates that can win the most votes. and that's a very difficult process. you have to get -- the question for a lot of republicans -- >> what's the answer? >> i think you need to build a coalition and find a coalition that can get a majority vote. >> i think you lose the right when you go to the center. >> it depends who the candidates are. >> that's why you guys are hugging those people. you like the crazy. >> i don't like crazies. i like winners. >> you had them for a while, but romney wasn't authentic.
>> that was a big problem. >> it is a problem. thank you, we agree. romney wasn't authentic. thank you, dee dee. john feehery and dee dee myers. how far can we go when we go after the bad guys? there's a lot of debate over the justice department memo that concludes the u.s. can kill american citizens tied to al qaeda even if they're not involved in an active plot at the time to attack the united states. i understand the civil liberty's concern, but ask yourself this. if an american had put on a nazi uniform in world war ii, wouldn't we have gone after him? block the vote. democrats have had enough of republican efforts to make it harder for them to vote. they are about to push legislation to make it easier to vote and to register, and they're expecting help from the white house on this big one. flooding the zone. immigration, guns. those two issues, the budget, president obama is trying to overwhelm republicans on multiple fronts right now to prevent them from organizing effective opposition to any one of these issues, and guess what? it just might work. flooding the zone. here is just one more reason eric cantor has a long way to go
to rebrand the gop. a tea partier just referred to some americans as -- ready for this one? -- ethnically challenged. good luck with that rebranding, eric. and this is "hardball," the place for politics. this is $100,000. we asked total strangers to watch it for us. thank you so much. i appreciate it. i'll be right back. they didn't take a dime. how much in fees does your bank take to watch your money? if your bank takes more money than a stranger,
you need an ally. ally bank. your money needs an ally. there might not be a republican filibuster against chuck hagel after all, president obama's nominee for defense secretary. but today republicans tried out a new line. senator lindsey graham of south carolina called hagel clueless about your policy toward iran. he added, i hope the obama administration will reconsider his nomination. reconsider. well, lindsey likely won't be getting that wish either. we'll be right back. they're not going to reconsider. this guy is in. my mother made the best toffee in the world.
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that gives the u.s. legal justification for targeting american citizens abroad. according to that memo, an american can be killed without judicial review if it's determined he or she is a senior operations official in al qaeda. that was the case in 2011 when a drone strike killed anwar al awlaki. eric holder defended the memo and the process behind it. >> one of the things i want to make sure everybody understands is that our primary concern is to keep the american people safe, but to do so in a way that's consistent with our laws and consistent with our values. we say that we only take these kinds of actions when there's an imminent threat, when capture is not feasible, and when we were confident that we're doing so in a way that's consistent with federal and international law. >> well, civil liberties advocates have reacted to that strongly saying the process is clouded in secrecy and the legal
justifications are murky at best. for example, there's the question of how it's determined who should be on the government's hit list. according to the memo, quote, it's up to an informed high-level official of the u.s. government who, quote, has determined that the targeted individual poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the united states, close quote. nbc investigative correspondent michael isikoff broke the story, and robin wright is a tremendous scholar at the woodrow wilson center here in washington and also the u.s. institute of peace, and i respect her tremendously as a reporter as i do this correspondent, michael isikoff. so you broke the story. you found this memo. what did it tell you or tell us? a lot of our people are progressives, they're concerned about this. it's one of those areas where there's a real tradeoff you have to do. catch the bad guys, respect american values. >> this has been one of the most secretive policies of the obama administration, the use of drones, and controversial. it's been expansive. the drone strikes have dramatically increased under president obama. >> a drone is an unmanned vehicle that goes into a place, drops a bomb, and comes back.
>> and missiles attached that can be used to kill the target. now, where it gets most controversial is when you talk about american citizens, and they have acknowledged that they are using drones in select cases against american citizens, and they have outlined publicly, attorney general holder last year gave a speech outlining publicly what the legal standards were for use of drones against american citizens or lethal operations against american citizens. the significance of the memo is if you read the memo closely, it provides considerable more detail than was in holder's speech when he outlined what the legal framework was, and as you can see in some of the language you quoted, the standards are a bit more expansive and a bit more -- there's a bit more leeway for policymakers than was let on in their public statements, and in particular that standard of imminent threat
of a violent attack. >> let me go to -- >> when you read the memo, it's a bit -- >> i know. it's always tough to get intel right. intel can be wrong, as we learned in iraq. let me ask you about the principle here. if someone joins an army that's determined to destroy the united states or re-establish the caliphate or however you want to put it, is that person still an american? that's a great question. are they still americans if they're taking up arms against the united states? >> legally they're still americans. there are americans that have engaged in terrorist attacks within the united states. that's not the issue. the problem is the standards are rather subjective. it leaves us vulnerable to someone making a decision that's this sensitive on the basis of what may be partial -- >> suppose we find out that somebody with pretty good certitude is out to get us, they're involved with bombing our people, killing americans in uniform or not, what are we supposed to do? >> that's the big problem. the bottom line is we're going through a tremendous change in the nature of warfare. we're shifting to a period where we're learning how to fight wars
that do not involve troops on the ground. as a result the two things we're using are drones or unmanned aircraft. and there's a whole range of them, and special forces that go in in strategic operations. the problem with the difference between osama bin laden and anwar al awlaki is bin laden was in one place for a long period of time that allowed special forces to train, figure out how to deal -- >> we saw the movie. >> anwar al awlaki was moving around. that's the pattern of most of the extremists that the united states is trying to find and confront. and so drones have become the fast-action response in a way that you can't use special forces. it would have taken a very long time to get in and put troops on the ground to get -- >> michael, what are the politics? what are the sensitivities? i think i know what they are. how do you treat an american as a bad guy and he or she still gets rights. >> one of the reasons it's
getting traction today is less because of the policy as opposed to the secrecy that the obama administration has adopted in explaining -- >> are they afraid of aclu lawyers getting involved? >> like all administrations, they believe they're doing the right thing, and they don't want to share their internal thought processes with the public, but we had these huge battles during the bush years over the torture memos and other -- >> who is making the call? the attorney general, the head of the cia? who makes the call when we send in a drone? is it the army, the cia, is it the attorney general? >> a lot of recent reporting has shown it's actually barack obama himself -- >> through the nsc. >> that a lot of these are reviewed personally by the president. he is the informed high-level official that says go get this guy. >> does he have to give an official finding? does he have to have a finding? does he have to -- >> there's a finding that supports the policy, but i don't
know that he needs -- >> does he have fingerprints when he makes one of these decisions like -- >> not public ones. in fact, they won't discuss in public deliberations at all. listen, until last year they wouldn't acknowledge the drone policy existed. >> can you tell from your reporting if there's any conflict of conscience within the administration or they agree we need to do this in the war we're in now? >> look at panetta's comments to chuck todd the other day on "meet the press" in which he said making these decisions about who should die and who should not, who should get targeted, were really tough ones, and he agonized about that. that ought to give you a clue these are not all open and shut cases. >> i think leon is a conscientious guy. he goes to church every day. i think sometimes you have to do things that are not nice. we're fighting a war. >> i don't think -- >> it's a tough one for me. robin, i'm on the tough side of this one. i think we have to fight our enemies but great reporting.
great disclosure. we ought to know what we're doing. michael isikoff, thank you, and thank you. great to have you at nbc and, robin wright, one of my favorite correspondents. up next, chris christie's poll numbers are up through the roof. no wonder. here's a guy who can laugh at himself. he was on letterman and he's making the jokes about his own weight eating a doughnut. that's ahead, and this is "hardball," the place for politics.
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back to "hardball." now to a super "sideshow." if you have watched david letterman lately, you may have caught two things, a joke about mitt romney's money, lots of those jokes, and a fat joke about chris christie of new jersey. last night was no different, except governor christie was actually on the program. let's watch. >> i have made jokes about you, not just one or two, not just ongoing here and there, intermittent but --
>> i didn't know this was going to be this long. we've kept track in my office, and you're up to 362,000, and that's just on the fat jokes. here are two of them we particularly like. first one is, celebrity birthday today. chris christie turned 50. he blew out the candles on his cake and he wished for another cake. $1 billion will be spent on potato chips for super bowl sunday, and that's just at governor christie's house. >> that's what ambitious politicians have to do, be good sports. even though you're getting made fun of. missouri's house speaker tim jones signed on to a petition back in 2009 alleging that president obama's not a u.s. citizen. recently jones was asked the
obvious question. what was he thinking? and while you're watching, see if you recognize this set, the tv set here. >> for a while you were part of a lawsuit that ended up being dismissed in federal court alleging that president obama might not be a legitimate candidate because he might not have been born in the united states. i mean, having looked at that, i guess my initial question, with all due respect, is how could someone who is a public servant put their name on something that ridiculous? that's just completely off the wall and delusional, isn't it? >> well, a constituent of mine, a personal constituent of mine, asked me to look at the situation. for a long time the president did not want to produce that documentation. he eventually did. he produced a certificate of live birth, and i have been satisfied with that production. >> well, a personal constituent asked him to look into the issue, and his logical next step was signing on to participate with the lawsuit. the queen of the birthers, orly taitz. did you notice? if it looks familiar to you there, it's because todd a aikin
made his legitimate rape comments on that same show. americans for prosperity backed by the koch brothers held what they call a citizen watch dog training course for michigan residents. one of the suggestions was school choice with an emphasis on creating more charter schools. norman hughes, a tea party patriots member and a speaker at the event, made the case that charter schools don't tend to favor well-off students at the expense of their underprivileged peers. take a listen, however, courtesy of the liberal advocacy group progress michigan. >> kids aren't going to charter schools if they're "a" students. they go to charter schools because they're failing students, and by and large the charter schools have a higher percentage of poor families, ethnically challenged families. >> what is an ethnically challenged family? ethnically challenged? challenged by your ethnicity to what, by what?
this is the type of thing that prompted karl rove to start his new project to stop offensive comments like that from defining the republican party which they continue to do. more challenging by the day. as we just heard. ethically challenged. i'm sure that running really well with people who are minorities. here is an endorsement from bill clinton for betty white. >> it's important to have a leader who has won the respect and affection of our nation in the way betty has. after all, she's gained praise all the way from president obama to george w. of course, i'm talking about president barack obama and george washington. and i know the position would come naturally to betty as she has lived for so long in a place called the white house. >> wow. i think the president ought to go out and get a hamburger. he's getting a little skinny. and that was taped for what nbc is calling betty white's second annual 90th birthday special which airs tonight on nbc.
she recently turned 91. president obama, by the way, taped his own birthday video for last year's betty white event. up next, conservatives are hitting back against karl rove who thinks he and not the voters should be picking the best candidates for senate and other high offices. you're watching "hardball," the place for politics. [ male announcer ] when it comes to the financial obstacles military families face, we understand. our financial advice is geared specifically to current and former military members and their families. [ laughs ] dad! dad! [ applause ] [ male announcer ] life brings obstacles. usaa brings retirement advice. call or visit us online. we're ready to help. learn more with our free usaa retirement guide. call 877-242-usaa.
i'm milissa rehberger. here's what's happening. the iraq war veteran charged with shooting a navy s.e.a.l. is refusing to speak to his family. he's on suicide watch at a prison. lindsay vonn will be out for the rest of the ski season after a devastating fall. vonn was injured earlier in austria. and gas prices are on the rise. the biggest one-week spike in
nearly two years. back to "hardball." ♪ welcome back to "hardball." we're seeing an epic strategy war now been the gop along with an epic opportunity for democrats to exploit it. as we told you yesterday, karl rove has launched a pac to influence republican primaries and keep those deemed too extreme, think todd akin and richard mourdock, from getting nominated and blowing winnable races. it has not been well-received on stage right. matt kibbe writes, the empire is striking back. an orwellian named victory project is created with its sole mission of blocking the efforts of fiscally conservative activists across the country. a statement from tea party express called the pac a big mistake that will lead to neither conservatives nor victories.
anyway, joe walsh, former illinois congressman, tweeted that he's filing the paperwork to form a super pac of his own to support freedom loving conservatives to karl rove. the republicans' challenge here, make the tent big enough that the base has a voice and votes but doesn't drive the train. let's bring in steve mcmahon and michael steele. michael, for the defense, is the republican party capable of garnering all kinds of fringe voters, people on the very hard right, without having right wing candidates as your nominees and losing elections? how do they do both? >> look, this whole idea of having another pac is just to me -- it's just too out there. all you have to do to get together, organize at the state parties, put the state parties in charge of the political process. when i was state chairman, when i was a county chairman, i had to instill the discipline at the state level to make sure we were grooming and developing the kind of candidates you want to run.
you just can't leave it to an open process and then swing in with yet another pac that's going to divert money away from the state, concentrated here for consultants and vendors in washington, and then complain afterwards, as we saw in 2012, when you get your clock cleaned again, oh, gee, it's the candidates, oh, gee, it's the state party. there's got to be a concerted effort by the rnc to get off their behinds, get involved in the states, and make them the leadership here. don't rely on a karl rove or reince priebus. the state chairman really has the opportunity to vet the candidates up front and to build the party from the bottom up and inviting those activists who are frustrated to be a part of the process. >> how do you democrats exploit this? we have the republican establishment disdainful of its right wing and trying to prevent it from getting any candidacies. >> how do we exploit it? >> yeah. >> you remember the old rule from lee atwater, when the opponent is self-destructing get out of the way. >> that goes back to napoleon. >> well lee atwater made it
famous in our world. he's right. for the democrats, you watch these guys and you see on the one hand they've lost the middle which is great for the democratic party because everything they lose we pick up. on the other hand, they're attacking their base, which is going to result in not victories for moderate candidates who can win general elections, but it's going to result in right wing candidates getting their backs up, getting in these primaries, and they're low turnout primaries, and they win, and then they can't win general elections. >> let's talk about another strategy which is called flood the zone, like in basketball or football. you get so many players in one area, somebody is going to catch the ball. president obama has been relentless in agitating for action on a number of issues he wants to address. yesterday in minnesota it was gun restrictions. today it's immigration reform with business and labor leaders meeting at the white house. nbc's first read identifies the strategy. the obama white house wants to overload washington's political circuit in an effort to see what he can get through congress without letting congress define what issues get addressed. so throw a lot of stuff at them, immigration, guns, hoping that
the republicans are so flabbergasted by so many things to deal with, they can't get their act together. >> and he's done it brilliantly. on the fiscal cliff he basically had wall street, which funds the republicans, votes republican, talks to republicans, come in and say you have got to do what the president is asking you to do. on the debt, same thing happened. the republicans said -- >> the debt ceiling. >> -- and wall street came in and said, yes, you are. and now on immigration reform the president is appealing to the people who understand what responsible immigration reform can mean for business and the economy. he's actually not getting democrats to beat the republicans. he's getting republicans to beat the republicans. it's a great strategy. >> what do you make of it, michael, from the other side? jimmy carter was accused of having too many balls in the air when he was president. this time the president wants to throw a lot at the republicans and keep them off guard. >> it reminds me of 2009 all over again. instead of focusing on the paramount issue that every american is still facing, the jobs, the economy -- >> what's the republican job program? >> it's not about the republican job -- >> you just brought it up. what's your party's program?
>> you're asking about the president, let me address the president. didn't ask about the republicans. you asked me about the president. i'm telling what you the president is doing. my analysis of what the president is doing is a smart strategy, as steve noted. he's throwing a lot of things out there to see what sticks, but he also has a problem on the issue like guns that harry reid is not sitting up champing at the bit to do gun legislation coming out of the senate, by the way. so -- >> but the american public, michael, is. >> well, we know what the american public wants and what the united states senate and congress wants is sometimes two different things. that's the point. the president is trying to triangulate these interests to put his agenda out there to put the republicans on the defense to cobble together what he needs from the democrats to get something done. meanwhile, we still have unemployment at 7.9% and 22 million americans unemployed. >> michael, you don't have and the president doesn't have but i have a jobs program. rebuild america. big time.
we do it in our ads. it's called lean forward. >> but how does he do it when he shuts down the job -- >> 3% interest rate right now. you can borrow the money at practically nothing to get the job done. >> that's right. >> try to get the loan, chris. try to get the loans. >> you get a 30-year loan at 3%, would have no impact on the deficit. >> you do that and see what happens. >> i'm not president. >> he should be perhaps. >> unfortunately or fortunately, but neither is the case. thank you, guys. i do have a plan though that neither -- i say put people to work rebuilding this country because we did it in the '50s with ike. remember do nothing ike? >> this isn't the '50s. >> watch the ads. up next, democrats are fighting back against republican efforts to make it harder to vote, and that's ahead. republicans can't resist this stuff. and this is "hardball," the place for politics.
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wait for hours to exercise the right to vote. >> we're back. democrats are pushing back and pushing back hard against republican efforts to hold down the minority vote. in other words, the democratic vote. and one example, florida governor rick scott and the republican-led state legislature last year slashed early voting from 14 days down to 8 and actually cut off voting the sunday before the election. that's when many african-americans traditionally vote taking their, as they put it, souls to the polls right after church. the result in miami/dade county, florida, some folks waited for up to seven hours to vote down there. look at these lines. a study from the democratic polling firm peter hart research shows nationwide hispanics and african-americans were more likely to wait 30 minutes or longer to vote than white voters. in fact, obama voters in general had to wait longer to vote than romney voters. well, new york senator kirsten gillibrand and james clyburn of south carolina are teaming up to
push for the voter empowerment act. congressman clyburn is with me now. it's an honor to have you on. can you as a legislature -- i don't know the constitution is so tricky here. can you -- i'm told you can -- change these local state laws when they're being manipulated in many cases by republican legislatures? >> well, i don't know if we can legislatively change the state laws, but we can, in fact, change laws as they relate to federal elections, and so to the extent that a state law will have impact or affect a federal election, we can, in fact, manage what happens with federal elections. now, you may recall that's the way we got the 18-year-old the right to vote. states didn't do it. federal law was passed to allow 18-year-olds to vote in federal elections. of course, the impact of that was that states later came along and did it -- >> was that a constitutional amendment? wasn't that a constitutional amendment?
>> i'm saying but it was done for federal elections, not state elections. >> okay. let me ask you about what's been going on recently. 2004 ohio, some people think there was some vote chiseling 2004, ohio. some people think there was vote chiseling out there that affected the vote and caused great long lines in cleveland. same thing in florida. some people believe that rick scott, the governor we just suggested had a hand in making it tougher for minorities to vote. is it your thought the states have been abusing the authority of holding elections. >> absolutely. i was in ohio, akron, ohio, the friday before the elections. and i can tell you the secretary of state out there was doing all kinds of things to the dilute the impact of black voters. in precincts, they were folding, voting precincts, multiple voting precincts into one voting
place, thereby creating pressure on the system that will cause long lines to form. and you know people will be discouraged. other people will have to give up, not being able to take care of their children. i talked to people in south carolina who went back home because they could not afford to be away from their children. >> i understand. >> more than a couple of hours to vote. so this has been happening throughout 41 states. they've introduced legislation, and many of them have passed legislation that will bring great pressure on the system. and i want to thank you, chris, because your promo pieces on this subject have just been fantastic, and it's started a lot of people to thinking what is going on here. >> well, i hope it's had an impact, because i do believe that one thing that happened, i think a lot of african-americans got very upset when it became clear that a lot of people in power in states like florida and across the country and pennsylvania, my home state, were manipulating a law to keep
them from voting. i think a lot of people got red hot about that. is that what you're saying? because that's what i hope happened. >> absolutely. that's what happened in florida. yes, it happened in florida as well. and lines got -- some people were staying five and six hours in the lines because they were angry. >> i would be angry. >> in ohio, people got very, very angry in ohio. and that's why you had the big surge. the african-american vote, that was 11% in 2008. the overall vote got up to 15% in 2012. it's all because people were angry and decided to demonstrate. and i want to thank governor scott down in florida for deciding to go back and now to his extended voting. >> thank you. congressman, have agreat respect for you. jim clyburn. my message to people who try to stop people from voting, screw you. alex wagner, it is funny because it's awful how they blew it. isn't this a great story? here you see, alex, when you
watch the politics of this country, sometimes to get people roused, just try to hurt them. just say you can't vote and see what they do. it's nice to see americans rebel against that. >> you know, there has been so much maligning of public service and, you know, exercising one's -- being a participant in the great american democracy, and then you see people lining up for eight hours to vote. and sometimes in states where it's not even really particularly contested. people believe in the electoral process, which just underscores how dastardly and despicable it is that some republicans are trying to manipulate that process. and chris, you know, it's everything from the electoral college rigging that is now in vogue in certain republican-held state legislators to the voter idaho laws to even republican abuse of the senate filibuster. it's about consolidating power in the hands of the fractious few. >> how do they coincide that or square that with their efforts to get minority votes? you keep hearing republicans want latino votes, they want some african-american votes. >> exactly. >> at the same time they're
publicly out there trying to suppress their vote. >> it underscores how disingenuous it is. on the one hand, we have to have minority outreach. on the other hand, it's a very concerted and multi-year effort to disenfranchise minority voters. it's principally because obama's electorate is broad and headquartered in urban areas and cities. and as such, republicans are trying to disenfranchise those kinds of voters. they are not winning those voters, and they know as their future as it is written in the policy they have embraced is not with those voters. so they'll do anything they can to manipulate the process to ensure that the rural white conservative voters have a disproportionate share of power. >> you're a political person like me. what do you make of the republican plan to try to discriminate against the right wing, prevent them from winning caucuses like karl rove's latest effort to purify the republican
party of their bases. >> you and i have been talking about this a while. we have long maintained that this is a tunnel that has heartbreak dead ahead. the republicans thought they had to invite tea partiers, people who have no effort in governing under the tent in an effort to win appalachia and the rural south. as a result, the tent now has two parties, really. and you see a schism here. i don't know how you can reconcile this fractious right ward flank with moderate establishment republicans who actually want to get legislation through and are trying to think of the party in the long-term. >> can't beat that thank you, alex wagner, my colleague for joining us. the name of your program every day is "now" and it's on at noon every day. we'll be right back. >> thanks, chris. so here's a challenge: love the gorgeous dimension of nice'n easy or we'll pay for a salon color. take the salon challenge, from nice'n easy. otherworldly things. but there are some things i've never seen before. this ge jet engine can understand
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let me finish tonight with this. voting in america should not be like chinese water torture. it should be available to any person willing to put in a reasonable effort to identify themselves, get themselves registered, and show up at election time. it's one of the areas where balance is the key factor. get the information that is necessary to ensure the voter is he or she who they say they are. make the process as easy as possible consistent with that goal in keeping it honest. don't throw hurdles in people's way. don't reduce the number of hours you can vote. and create enough voting stations throughout so we don't have lines stretching hours into the night. i do believe what we saw in ohio in 2004 and what we saw last november in florida are examples of not meeting these standards. i do suspect that the people running those states at those times were not interested in making it